Superior (Class of 1980)
When Rick Meyer spins around, the discus usually sails a long way. By the time he was named the Hastings Tribune’s Prep Athlete of the Year in 1980, Meyer had already embarked on a record-setting career. The first Nebraska prepster to eclipse the 190-foot mark, Meyer won the all-class gold medal as a junior and the Class B gold medal as a senior. Also all-area in football and basketball, Meyer accepted a track scholarship to the University of Houston where he was a three-time Southwest Conference champion, a five-time All-American (twice in the shot put) and the NCAA champion in 1985 and runner-up in 1983. His senior year he set the NCAA meet record of 209-10. Ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. for nine years, Meyer placed fifth in the Goodwill Games in Moscow in 1986 and was an alternate for the Olympics in 1992. His younger brother, Andy, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Wayne (Class of 1963)
Don Meyer made his mark nationally as a successful and legendary college basketball coach, setting a record with 923 wins at Hamline (MN) University, Lipscomb (TN) University and Northern State (SD), but his playing accomplishments can’t be overlooked. The only player at Wayne High School to have his jersey retired, Meyer averaged 20 points per game as a junior and 26.5 points per game as a senior for teams that were a combined 32-5. He also starred as a pitcher on Wayne’s first high school team and its American Legion team. At the University of Northern Colorado, Meyer was a four-year starter in basketball, leading the Bears in scoring his junior and senior seasons. He also went 22-2 as a pitcher on the UNC baseball team that nearly qualified for the College World Series. He has been inducted into Wayne High School, Northern Colorado and the NAIA Halls of Fame, and is the subject of the movie, My Many Sons.
Sidney (Class of 1952)
Jon McWilliams was noted for his speed. Labeled “Greased Lighting” after a three-touchdown performance against Oshkosh, the Sidney senior sprinted to Class B all-state honors in football and the 120-yard high hurdles silver medal at the state track meet, helping his team win the state title. McWilliams, who lettered all four years in high school in all three sports, was also a mainstay on the basketball team. Selected as Western Nebraska’s Football MVP by the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, McWilliams went on to earn All-Big Seven honors at Nebraska after being switched to end. One of the first black players of the modern era, McWilliams was a three-year letterman in football and ran track for the Huskers. He played one year for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League.
Athlete–A 1921 graduate of the Omaha High School of Commerce then situated at 17th & Leavenworth. Ike Mahoney deserves to be remembered for his athletic prowess, just as one of his high school classmates, Roman L. Hruska, is remembered for public service. Helping the boys of Omaha Commerce achieve an early Class A state championship in basketball, he was also talented elsewhere: All-state three years in basketball, once in football and a star in baseball and track. He played in four state basketball tournaments from 1918-21 and scored 141 points, the state record for 34 years. Ike Mahoney went to college at Creighton and he assisted the Bluejays efforts in both basketball and football. He was one of the earliest Nebraskans to successfully compete in professional basketball. A great early all-state caliber high school athlete who will not be forgotten.
During Tom McCann’s 42 years as head wrestling coach at Kearney High, the Bearcats achieved a standard of consistent excellence that netted state records for consecutive tournament victories, state tournament pins and points. Kearney won 21 conference team championships, 14 district championships, one state championship, eight state runners-up and 29 top-10 finishes. Also including three years coaching in Colorado, McCann produced 34 state individual champions, 161 state runners-up and 362 state qualifiers. Equally successful in AAU, after the inagural first two years McCann took over the Maine Exchange and initiated Hawaiian Exchange for Nebraska wrestlers and in 1973 he took a team to Romania for the first high school age wrestlers to compete behind the Iron Curtain. He coached AAU teams in Mongolia, Russia, Bulgaria, Germany and Iran. Early in his career, he coached the Kearney High tennis teams to four top 5 state tournament finishes in five years.
KEARNEY — When Tom McCann started coaching wrestling, he found more than a job.
“I never dreamed the ride would be this good,” said McCann, who retired at the end of last year. “I really enjoyed my time at Kearney High.“That’s what they say, ‘You don’t want a job, you want a career.’ You want to do something you like so that every time you go to work, it’s not work.”
McCann’s 45-year coaching career paved the way for his induction into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame.
The Hall’s 20th class of inductees was announced Sunday. The induction ceremony is Sept. 15 in Lincoln.
“Over the years I’ve seen all the coaches that have gone in and the great athletes and to be in that company is a great honor,” McCann said.
McCann started coaching at Mountain Valley High School in Saguache, Colo. He came to Kearney High three years later, building a program that has produced one state championship, eight runner-up finishes, 21 conference championships and 14 district championships.
He was in the corner for 34 individual state champions and 15 wrestlers who went on to earn All-American honors in college.
“I’ve had some (congratulatory) text messages today from quite a few kids I’ve coached and like I responded to every one of them, they’re the reason why,” McCann said. “There are so many great kids I’ve coached and had a chance to be associated with, not only at the high school level, but the guys I’ve worked with on international teams.”
McCann, who served as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska at Kearney this season, has been one of the most active coaches in amateur wrestling outside fo high school, taking teams to dozens of junior tournaments and tours.
He’s taken teams to Romania, Poland, Germany Russia, Bulgaria and Iran. He pioneered the Main Exchange, where teams from Maine and Nebraska visit the other’s state in alternate years for a series of duals and life experiences.
He keeps in touch with many of those wrestlers.
“You get a chance to work with individuals and have a part in maybe shaping who they become and what they become. That’s the joy of coaching,” he said.
He also stays in contact with his own coaches, from high school, junior college and college.
“Without those guys I wouldn’t be the person I am today. … My heroes are the guys who were my coaches,” McCann said.
Coach. Nicknamed “Dr. Victory” his career win record was 200-81-4 made him second only to Eddie Robinson of Grambling as the winningest Division 1-AA coach at the time of his retirement. Darrell coached every level of the sport from peewee’s to high school, college and one professional team. The 1946 South High graduate played his college sports at Peru State where he lettered in football, basketball, and track. His first coaching job was at Tekamah where he coached all sports. From there he went on to coach in college, starting at Huron, then Northern Colorado, Adams State, then North Dakota State. He left the college scene in 1966 to give the pros a try coaching the Montreal Alouettes for one year. In 1967 he returned to the college ranks heading the program at the University of Arizona. From there it was to Western Illinois, Florida State, Eastern Illinois and finished at the University of Northern Iowa. Darrell earned his Doctor of Education degree in 1965 at Northern Colorado U. , his thesis was “ Study of Current College Football Coaching Practices in Light of Selected Theories of Learning.” This was later published in book form as Freedom in the Huddle, a psychology of coaching textbook. Darrell retired from active coaching in 1988 and he and his wife now reside in Florida.
Contributor. A longtime coach and athletic director at Lincoln Southeast, Wally McNaught was involved in high school sports for more than 45 years. He coached football, basketball and track while at Harvard, Crete, Omaha Bryan and Southeast. He led Lincoln Southeast to the state basketball tournament (boys) five times, finishing second twice. While he was athletic director at Southeast from 1985 to 1993, the Knights established a dynasty, winning 27 state team championships. McNaught served as an officer in the Nebraska Coaches Association and the Nebraska Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. He has been recognized as “giving birth” to the Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star Basketball Game and served as a director for the Cornhusker State Games. McNaught has won several professional awards and honors and has been a member of the Hall of Fame Board of Directors since 1997, serving as president from 2005 to 2007.
A typical McNaught thought: “There’s a perspective beyond winning that helps me over the rough spots. There are doubts and discouragement that go with the territory. But tomorrow you wake up and it’s a new day and you gain more perspective on how appreciative you should be in having as good a job as teaching and coaching.” He died in 2014.
Contributor. One of the founders of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame, Jerry Mathers spent his life teaching, coaching and serving as a totally-consumed-in-it historian of high school sports. He authored three books on history and records for Nebraska high school sports and was the first historian of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame. His co-authored “Pages of History”, which provided a page for every high school in existence, small or large, between 1854-1994. A Mathers motto: “There’s still forgotten records out there in many small Nebraska towns and I want them”. For nearly thirty years he taught and/or coached at Lyons, Platteview, Winnebago and McCool Junction.
The architect of the Kearney High School boys track dynasty, Roger Mathiesen’s coaching career has been highlighted by unprecedented accomplishments. From 1993-2014, the Bearcats established a national record of 123 consecutive, regular-season meet victories. In the postseason, Kearney dominated Class A, winning 11 consecutive state championships from 1994 to 2004 a streak that ranked fourth in the nation. At the time of his induction, the Bearcats had won 16 state championships in 21 years and finished second three times, averaging more than two individual state champions per year. Mathiesen earned national Coach of the Year awards honors in 2001 and was named the Nebraska Coach of the Year multiple times.
Athlete. Touted as one of the best all-around athlete ever produced by a Nebraska high school. Les earned seven letters in a high school career cut short by signing a major league baseball contract. High school honors included All-State in football for three years. He was a member of the basketball team that won the conference three straight years with a record of 46-7, that included a 37 game win streak. An above average sprinter in track he won the 220 in the 1909 State Meet. In a time when the rules about professional athletes were a bit different, Les attended Springfield College in the off-season where he received All-American honors in football. Called up by the Boston Braves in 1913, he started his compilation of a lifetime batting average of .282. Les was considered one of the heroes in the 1914 World Series Championship by the Braves. He went on to play with several other major league teams and held the off-season job of Physical Education Director at Rice. Later on served as basketball coach at Indiana and then back to Springfield. He was an originator of baseball schools and was instrumental in getting baseball as a sport in the 1936 Olympics. Les passed away in January of 1962. Les Mann’s Big League Career Games Average HR RBI Career 1493 .282 44 503 World Series 9 .241 0 3
Mann was platooned in the outfield of the 1914 World Champion Braves; the next year he jumped to the Federal League and led that circuit with 19 triples. He headed a player revolt for better shares in the 1918 WS as a member of the pennant-winning Cubs. He batted over .300 six times, mostly as a reserve; in his three seasons with the Cardinals (1921-23), he hit .328, .347, and .371. He turned in Giant pitcher Phil Douglas for writing him a letter inviting a bribe in 1922. After his playing days, Mann formed the National Amateur Baseball Association. In 1936, he persuaded the World Olympic Committee to add baseball as an exhibition event; two American teams puzzled a throng of Germans, who formed a larger crowd than had ever attended a World Series game.